Transforming the degradation rate of β-tricalcium phosphate bone replacement using 3-dimensional printing

Chen Shen, Maxime M. Wang, Lukasz Witek, Nick Tovar, Bruce N. Cronstein, Andrea Torroni, Roberto L. Flores, Paulo G. Coelho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: β-Tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) is one of the most common synthetic bone grafting materials utilized in craniofacial reconstruction; however, it is limited by a slow degradation rate. The aim of this study was to leverage 3-dimensional (3D) printing in an effort to accelerate the degradation kinetics of β-TCP. Methods: Twenty-two 1-month-old New Zealand white rabbits underwent creation of calvarial and alveolar defects, repaired with 3D-printed β-TCP scaffolds coated with 1000 μM of osteogenic agent dipyridamole. Rabbits were euthanized after 2, 6, and 18 months after surgical intervention. Bone regeneration, scaffold degradation, and bone mechanical properties were quantified. Results: Histological analysis confirmed the generation of vascularized and organized bone. Microcomputed tomography analysis from 2 to 18 months demonstrated decreased scaffold volume within calvarial (23.6% ± 2.5%, 5.1% ± 2.2%; P < 0.001) and alveolar (21.5% ± 2.2%, 0.2% ± 1.9%; P < 0.001) defects, with degradation rates of 54.6%/year and 90.5%/year, respectively. Scaffold-inducted bone generation within the defect was volumetrically similar to native bone in the calvarium (55.7% ± 6.9% vs 46.7% ± 6.8%; P = 0.064) and alveolus (31.4% ± 7.1% vs 33.8% ± 3.7%; P = 0.337). Mechanical properties between regenerated and native bone were similar. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates an improved degradation profile and replacement of absorbed β-TCP with vascularized, organized bone through 3D printing and addition of an osteogenic agent. This novel additive manufacturing and tissue engineering protocol has implications to the future of craniofacial skeletal reconstruction as a safe and efficacious bone tissue engineering method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E153-E162
JournalAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • 3D printing
  • Bone
  • Dipyridamole
  • Scaffold
  • Tissue engineering
  • Tricalcium phosphate
  • Rabbits
  • Bone Regeneration
  • X-Ray Microtomography
  • Tissue Scaffolds
  • Calcium Phosphates
  • Animals
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Osteogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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